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Thursday, April 1, 1999 Published at 20:03 GMT 21:03 UK

World: Europe

'Ethnic cleansing at its most brutal'

Refugees gather at the border crossing into Albania

By Clarence Mitchell on the Kosovo-Albania border

Kosovo: Special Report
Tens of thousands more Kosovo Albanian refugees are continuing to flow across the border between Kosovo and Albania. The rate is now at its highest since the humanitarian crisis began.

Albanian officials say that more than 113,000 have crossed so far, more than 20,000 of them within the last 24 hours. Many more are expected on Thursday night.

The majority population of Kosovo is, quite simply, leaving.

EU Humanitarian Affairs Commissioner Emma Bonino tells of the flood of refugees out of Kosovo
The massed, pathetic chain of tractors, cars, lorries and buses carrying thousands upon thousands of Kosovo Albanians to the border tonight stretches back into Kosovo for miles - up to 60 miles, some of the refugees told us - as whole families with nothing between them but what they could carry at short notice, slowly enter Albania.

On the edge of modern Europe, on the eve of the new millennium, this is the face of a tactic from the past: ethnic cleansing at its most brutal.

Registration requirements have now been relaxed here at the border to help this flow of the dispossessed.

Rob Parsons reports on "a people systematically uprooted"
For the Kosovo Albanians, home is no longer their principal city Pristina; rather, it's a sheet of cardboard on a hillside just inside the Albanian border.

All of these people told us how the Serb paramilitary forces had systematically emptied Pristina at gunpoint over the last 48 hours.

Citizenship removed

Overnight more than 12,000 of the refugees had walked out of the darkness, leaving all behind them.

They had been brought from the city on coaches driven by Serbs and made to walk the last two kilometres to the border themselves, every vestige of their citizenship taken from them - their money, passports and other documentation.

The bewildered and the grief-stricken were given some small rations before being moved on to other towns and cities across Albania.

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